24 hours running around a desert soaking wet, cold and tackling obstacles, yeah I can do that right?
The lead up to this event was 12 months in the making…
The Worlds Toughest Mudder is a 24 hour endurance event held each November in the desert of Las Vegas, competitors the world over compete to conquer their personal goals and escape the ordinary. The course is 8km long, with a multitude of obstacles along the way, some of which cannot be achieved alone. The goal is to do as many loops as you can over a 24 hour period, starting 12pm Saturday and finishing 12pm Sunday.
My reason’s for being here were simple: to push the body and mind beyond limits I didn’t think possible, along with raising money and awareness for dementia patients and their families. https://alzheimersfun-raising.everydayhero.com/au/muddering4alzheimers
The news of my Mother In law being diagnosed with early onset Dementia in 2015 was earth shattering to the family. Why? How? so many questions unanswered. A 58 year old wife, mother and grandmother with a heart of gold. Naturally we felt helpless. Only treatments to slow down the effects were available, most of which on trial. I loved this question: Friend: ‘So what is this 24 hour Tough Mudder’? Me: ^^ Friend: ‘You’re crazy, why are you doing that?’ Me: ^ Friend: ‘Oh, go smash it!’ Was the usual response
The journey to the lake started a week prior with a few days soaking up the Santa Monica sun, a final shop at Vons for some food and supplies, then a pretty cool Mustang drive to Las Vegas, picking up Michael (the best pit crew any runner can have!) along the way.
The night before was spent on the Las Vegas Strip with a final kit check in the hotel room. Let me tell you this was a very unorthodox way to spend a night in Las Vegas!
The event has a sprint lap, whereby no obstacles are open for about an hour, many took advantage of this opportunity by putting some fast k’s in the legs, I strategically held back and went out comfortably first 6 laps. Good pace and tracking well towards the 75 mile goal. Nearing the end of lap 6 (48km’s) I was running well and heard footsteps behind me. It were the team leaders Ryan Atkins and Jon Albon, they were on lap 8. I stuck to my pace and let them go. Got caught up on how cold it got in past years, so after running in my Lavacore thermals for some laps, for lap 7 I then decided to put a wetsuit on over top as the sun was down and was getting cold. The water on the course was freezing. With the pace I was moving I overheated whole lap, lost energy and salts. Made it back to pits and was nauseous and wrecked. Sat for around 15 minutes to refuel and cool down and went back out with wetsuit only. Ahh much better. I’d done a few training runs in this wetsuit and it fit well. Stayed in 4:3 Xcel wet suit until sunrise, approximately 11 hours . Felt right at home in the night time laps due to training. The course was very quiet and the pit area as well. At around 1-2am in the morning I ask Michael: ‘How am I tracking?’ Mr V: ‘Dude smashing it, the leader has stopped, can’t keep warm.’ Me: ‘Oh shit ok, what else?’ Mr V: ‘Well this guy here can’t keep warm either, he’s wrapped up in an emergency blanket and sleeping bag, and the English guy beside us here, cracked rib from an obstacle!’ I go on to think, ok this is pretty serious! The organisers had a medical team at the start of each lap during night ops (night time running) and would ask basic questions about your alertness and…sanity :). At around 3am Sunday morning after running, climbing, crawling and swimming for 15 hours straight they stopped me and asked a simple question: Medical officer: When a traffic light is green do you go or stop? Me: Ahh, go? Pause…. Medical officer: Are you ok? You look like a deer in headlights? Me: (Laughing) Yeah, I’m tired! They let me go 🙂 Phew! Running through the finish chute to collect that 75mile bib at around 10:30 the next morning was an experience I won’t forget. That feeling of total accomplishment, overwhelming emotion and gratitude towards everything that had aligned to place me there that weekend.
Overall, body was ready for the goal I set. I’d been weight training since a late teenager so my strengths were upper body strength and core. I’d only been running consistently for around 1 year so the legs were screaming at me most of the time.
I’d stayed positive and focused on the outcome of finishing the entire event. I held a mantra of being in the present, not thinking of the past or future, but focusing on the here and now and individual task at hand, whether it was running, or an obstacle or refuelling. Reflection played a big part on performance, reminding myself of why I was here, who was I doing it for, the sacrifices my family has made to allow this to happen. Staying focused on my race was the biggest challenge, with others stopping at night to rest, or being pulled by a medic, or injury. The don’t call this the Worlds Toughest Mudder for nothing!
Had the nutrition pretty well sorted as I stayed hydrated, didn’t feel hungry and monitored calorie intake as much as possible. Didn’t cramp and tried for 300 calorie’s per pit stop. Mr V was a champ for this as he was calorie counting as I was consuming and prepped fluid/solids before coming into pits. Kept it basic with soaks oats (yep the secret recipe) tailwind, fruit, peaches in juice, peanut butter/honey sandwiches. Took a gel each lap and consumed at the 4km mark.
Having a support crew is an absolute must! Couldn’t of asked for a better crew. His only complaint was he hadn’t got much sleep. Well Mr V If I’m not sleeping….sorry!
Look, it’s ok if they have a run in with the law after the race, you need them beforehand!
24 hours pushing through the day and night is taxing! So having a friend there helping and keeping the sanity in check is invaluable. Gave race reports each pit stop and encouragement and support. Tip on choosing a pit crew, someone who probably knows you better than yourself, more so someone who can put up with your attitude during the event, cause I’ll bet you’ll have some!